Joe Masterson isn’t your typical gay rights activist.
A 72-year-old Irish farmer, he grew up in an era when such matters were simply not discussed. But there he was, going door to door this week asking neighbors in the small village of Castlepollard to support a proposal to allow same-sex couples in Ireland to marry.
He was not alone. Opinion polls suggest that this once deeply conservative and still overwhelmingly Roman Catholic country could become the first to legalize gay marriages through a popular vote Friday.
That such a milestone could be reached in a country that did not decriminalize homosexuality until 1993, is evidence of how quickly attitudes have...